southeastern/London Bridge and the Greenwich Line

A presentation by Network Rail and southeastern to the Greenwich Society Annual General Meeting

Wednesday 15 October 2014 at 7.30pm

Thameslink Programme

Giles Bayram, Project Manager (Change) – Thameslink – Network Rail, reminded the meeting of the aims of the programme – (1) to reducing overcrowding on both Thameslink and commuter services, (2) to reduce overcrowding on the underground, (3) to reduce the need for interchange between main-line and underground services and (4) to introduce new cross-London services, thereby improving public transport accessibility in the South East.

The programme is government funded with an aim of increasing capacity on commuter routes and removing bottlenecks through the redevelopment of London Bridge and the introduction of a new high frequency service through London.The Department for Transport is heading the programme, which his being managed by Network Rail (providing £4.5 billion infrastructure investment as well as signalling, track, electrification and plant), Siemens (supplying £2 billion rolling stock programme including new trains, depots and sidings, and a consortium of GTR, southeastern and southern Railways (in a major re-franchising).The infrastructure improvements are taking place at (1) Farringdon where, from 2018, Thameslink will connect with Crossrail, giving passengers direct links to three international airports and St Pancras International rail station, (2) Blackfriars, the first station to span the Thames on the world’s largest solar energy bridge, and (3) London Bridge, with its new concourse and new platforms, all with step free access.At London Bridge, a main aim was to untangle the track layout in order to provide more reliable journeys and end delays to services. When finished, the new track layout through London Bridge will remove problematic crossing and complexities to leave three main streams – the Cannon Street lines to the North, Thameslink in the centre and the Charing Cross lines to the South.  A new flyover and track work will also be undertaken in Bermondsey for the necessary improvements to the Thameslink lines.

The main station work began in May 2013 and platforms 12 to 15 have been rebuilt and opened to passengers. Platforms 10 and 11 are closed for their rebuilding until January 2015 and comprehensive signalling work is underway. Services ChangesMike Gibson, Public Affairs Manager, southeastern Railways, explained the specific changes that will take place during and after the redevelopment work and which will impact on the Greenwich line and the passengers who use it.Work will be completed in December of this year for the terminating platforms at London Bridge station and will move instead to the through-platforms – 1 to 6. There will, therefore, be major and unavoidable disruption both to Thameslink and southeastern services for the next three years. London Bridge station will remain open throughout the work but some service changes will be inevitable. As dedicated lines for three distinct ‘purposes’ are being created – Cannon Street, Thameslink and Charing Cross – some of the changes will be permanent.

From 5th January 2015 – new timetable
Between January 2015 and August 2016, no southeastern services to/from Charing Cross will call at London Bridge. (However, between January and May 2015 there may be some exceptions to this pattern at the end of the operating day when trains leaving Charing Cross will call at Waterloo East and London Bridge)Services to Woolwich Dockyard, Plumstead, Belvedere and Erith will also be diverted to and from Cannon Street until August 2016 – calling at London Bridge.Services to and from Westcombe Park, Maze Hill and Greenwich (as well as Deptford, New Cross and St Johns will) cease permanently to operate to and from Charing Cross via Waterloo East. Services will all run into and out of Cannon Street.

August 2016 to early 2018
Services to and from London Charing Cross will resume calling at London Bridge.Between August 2016 and the beginning of 2018, no southeastern services to/from Cannon Street will call at London Bridge.The Greenwich Line

  • Services to and from Westcombe Park, Maze Hill and Greenwich will all run into and out of Cannon Street.
  • Cannon Street Station – both main line and underground - will be open for longer hours and over seven days a week to accommodate the additional passenger numbers that are anticipated.
  • The line will be served by longer trains to boost capacity
  • There will be slightly fewer peak trains (2 fewer in the morning and 4 fewer in the evening).
  • Southeastern will monitor passenger numbers over the course of the new timetable. 


Assistance for Passengers

In October 2014, timetables for December 2014 and January 2015 were confirmed. Southeastern also worked with stakeholders to raise awareness of the upcoming changes and both ticketing and re-rerouting advice to passengers commenced. From November 2014 targeted information and communication to all affected passengers will be made available – including advertising at stations.


Questions & Answers

Q: Will Cannon Street tube station remain open all the time that the rail station is open and in use during the redevelopment work and service changes?
A: Yes.Q: Will there be any improvement in the opening hours for Cannon St?
A: Yes - The operating hours of Cannon Street Station will be enhanced and will be similar to those of Charing Cross - including late night and weekends.Q: Is a bus link between Cannon Street and London Bridge/Waterloo East/Charing Cross during the redevelopment work a possibility?
A: YesQ: Is there any chance of a rail shuttle between Cannon Street and Charing Cross during the redevelopment?
A: NoQ: Is there any chance of a permanent shuttle between Cannon Street and Charing Cross after the redevelopment work?
A: NoQ: While there are no direct trains from Greenwich to Charing Cross, will there be some direct services from Lewisham?
A: YesQ: Do TfL plan to improve bus links during the work?
A: Answers will be sought from TfL.Q: For those communing to Waterloo East and Charing Cross, what would be the impact on journey times?
A: Journey times may indeed be longer during the work.Q: For those communing to Waterloo East and Charing Cross, will there be any reimbursement of the additional costs of alternative travel arrangements?
A: Those involved in the project have agreed in principle that no passengers will be 'out of pocket' as a result of the work, but a final decision is awaited from Department for Transport. The Travel Demand Management Board has been working on ticketing and there may possibly be some extra bus links from some North Greenwich.Q: Can there be better signage at London Bridge for platforms? How will the changing of trains operate?
A: The interchange at London Bridge will be similar – with three separate streams of traffic (Charing Cross, Thameslink and Cannon Street) but the availability of both lifts and escalators to every platform should make it easier for everyone.Q: Greenwich line users are going to suffer for the benefit of those living outside London. Many passengers who use the Greenwich Line don't want to go to Cannon Street and these changes will detrimentally effect Greenwich line users more than anyone. Will you reconsider no direction link to Charing Cross?
A: Greenwich line doesn't operate in isolation and some sacrifice is necessary to improve the overall capacity - extra 18 trains an hour will be possible because of the project. There will be better service for the Greenwich line eventually, albeit one that necessitates an interchange at London Bridge – but a much easier interchange than there is currently.Q: What benefits will there be for Greenwich from the completion of the work in 2018 especially with so many new residents? Greenwich line seems to be outside TfL remit and those who will gain something from the redevelopment.
A: The Mayor did not get control of the rail franchises  - passed to TfL - as he wanted. The official position of southeastern railways is that they would be happy whatever the ultimate management of the franchises. It is true that Kent residents were opposed to Mayor’s plans.One improvement for all passengers will be improved reliability, with an end to so much waiting outside London Bridge station. Another improvement for all passengers will be a new station at London Bridge with step free access to all platforms.Q: If you are building a flyover for the Thameslink service, why cannot there also be one for the Greenwich line? It's obvious that Thameslink priority. Why can't Greenwich to/from Charing Cross be re-instated? The industry could remodel North Kent East junction to include a junction for Greenwich line. There is some spare capacity that, with little infrastructure changes, could help.
A: The questions will be referred back to Network Rail for an answer.Q: There has been a lack of information for Greenwich Line users and a lack of transparency about any priority for Greenwich Line users. Please will you provide this in future to the Greenwich Society?
A: Yes – and also to GLUGQ: What arrangements can be made for those people who for one reason or another (such as claustrophobia) are unable to us the tube as an alternative to the train?
A: TfL, like all transport services, have special assistance arrangements for passengers requiring it. A specific answer will be checked and supplied.Q: Will there be any job creation as a result of the redevelopment work?
A: Yes – both locally and for apprenticeships. southeastern confirmed an extra 75 platform staff would be recruited. The Network Rail and Southeastern presention Rail Industry Q&A sheet Updated